March 4, 2014
Too often, radio folk get tunnel vision and forget that our business is merely a reflection of society. Fewer workers, more duties, too many hours, and not enough pay have become the business model for our industry.
An IT friend of mine heads the department at a hospital and he told me folks in his department who once worked 40-hour weeks are now doing 50 to 60 hours a week due to downsizing. I can remember being a PD earlier in my career and within a five-month period, I lost my promotions manager and street team captain. Of course, I figured these conditions would not last long and I devised a way to get things done. Unfortunately, when management discovered I could juggle like a trained seal, I was stuck doing my circus act until I was able to find an escape. From then on, I never let another employer know all the things I knew how to do. Here is a question from someone who is multi-tasking the multi-tasking!
Question: "I was hired to do middays and assistant promotions. Since I got here, I have been frustrated because the on-air seems to come in second. I am doing graphics and things for the website, and this new salesperson has been creating havoc. I am so frustrated. I put together all these graphics for her sales presentation and the sales manager hated what I had done. I had to redo everything, had no time to do my show live or to voicetrack. And they are fine with that, but I'm not. When I first got here, my OM told me to just concentrate on my show, but that is not how it is working out. When there are client meetings, I have to voicetrack or sometimes just track music.
"What should I be concentrating on? Oh, there is more to this story. Now I have to start over from scratch, for the third time and it is all because of her small concert guy who is not spending that much. This salesman actually went directly to the OM and said she didn't like the copy or the photos. And of course, the salesperson gave me nothing to work with. This has been going on all day and everyone is upset with this person. She even guaranteed her client some things without getting permission first. She is a f***k-up and we are all suffering because of it."
Answer: "Sorry to hear you are going through this. However, what you are experiencing is what multi-tasking dual-duty radio people are going through. I am sure the OM is aware of the chaos surrounding the salesperson, and is trying to work around it to keep tempers from flaring even more. When it comes to your air shift, if it is the norm for others in your cluster to voicetrack while doing other jobs, follow suit because it sounds as if the OM is compliant.
My guess is this salesperson does not have a lot of experience and has had little training. Combine that with the fact the station is probably not making its monthly sales quota. Also, her client might not be spending much, but the Sales Manager does not want to give back any money. Stations tend to want cash up-front from small-market local concert promoters and owners. It is important to keep in mind sales people work on commission, take a lot of grief from clients, and do collections. It has always been a "Love/Hate" relationship between sales and programming, and lately even more so with increased downsizing and smaller staffs.
No Harm Intended
I am not making excuses for sales departments, but there are many functions of the job that increase the possibilities for human error. It's always my advice to jocks to realize salespeople only have two hands and an incredible amount of pressure to make sales. Here is a list of things in the day in the life of many salespersons:
Selling air time, writing copy, doing collections, dealing with clients, cold calling, pleasing the sales manager, making budget, giving presentations, negotiating rates, trying to understand station or cluster objectives, being present at client remotes, getting client approval on spec spots or actual commercials to air, meeting deadlines to turn in copy, reading up on the latest industry sales info, attending sales cattle calls with competing stations vying for agency business, preparing sales projections, keeping up with expense reports, getting jocks to endorse, keeping abreast of client billing, staying on top of make goods with traffic, attending sales staff meetings, writing orders, making draw, and trying to make a living.
Salespeople have been known to occasionally sidestep some of the program department directives such as turn-around time for a fully produced commercial or getting prior approval for a jock appearance. Sometimes the reasons are time crunch, closing a deal, cutting corners, or an overbearing established client. I often find the best way to improve communications with sales is to educate them with what programming and the jocks do. My advice is simple -- a mutual exchange of information can be beneficial. You don't have to hang out or become lifetime buddies ... just realize the need to understand other people.
Don't Let Them See You Sweat
Remember, do the best you can to the best of your abilities and work on getting the big picture stuff done and handle everything else when you can.